Sperm Whale Marine Turtle Gil Net Rescue A Success!!

Sperm Whale Marine Turtle Gil Net Rescue A Success!!

This is just a very quick update to let people know what happened yesterday and to thank all of those who participated in this operation.


Here is a link to the video



First and Foremost I would like to thank John Layman for lending us his 32 ft. Sport Fisher Amistad. Without which this operation would have been up the creek! Picture at left are Bud Smith, Chip White, John Layman and our two little helpers Andre and J.D. I would also like to thank Brian on Margarita 3 for going out and looking and a special thanks goes out to, Rich, Jeremy Jeff and Bill Hilliker who were the boys on the Sport fishing boat La Vida Rica who finally spotted the whale and called us up. We had actually given up for the day and were about 7 miles from San Carlos when we got the call that the whale had been found 27 miles out so we turned around and hauled ass back out there. The Hilliker Family on La Vida Rica stayed with the whales and turtles until we arrived which was crucial and if it had not been for a good box cutter they had on board it would have taken us a lot longer than it did to free the Calf. I will post a video as soon as I can but in the mean time here are some pictures.

Also special thanks go out to Harry and Nancy Lehrs on “The Greek” who originally reported the Whale entanglement, and to Jack and Sue on Border Bandit who reported the incident to me and who were also out there looking as well and working as a relay, for we might actually have missed the call in from La Vida Rica if it were not for Jack!!! This was truly a team effort and without all the help I would have never got the images, which I might say are very dramatic and may very well end up on National T.V. here in Mexico. It is not every day that you have everything fall into place and are able to capture images such as these which happens all to often here. I can’t wait to write the script for this one, it is really a interesting story to tell.

Thanks Again everyone!!!


I am sorry I don’t at the moment have a better picture of the guys from Vida Rica. They had a good underwater camera as well and I hopefully will hook up with them and get all their names so we can give them the credit that they deserve!!!






Vida Rica not only saved our Ass with a box cutter they also had cold beer left in the cooler, which was exactly what the doctor ordered!!







Chip catches beer tossed to us by the boys on La Vida Rica







Turtle & baby sperm Whale entangled in gil net







Here you get an idea of how extremely entangled this Calf was. Its entire tail is covered in a drift net almost as if someone had gift wrapped it. This was the toughest part of the net to remove. As you look off to the right you see that the net stretches down and leads off to the Adult female who was still very strong and towing the huge mass of gill net baby and marine turtles with it.






This was the mass of net leading from the Calf to the Adult Female, to get this shot I actually put the net between my legs so I could hold the camera steady and shoot the image. It was like riding a bucking bronco. For this reason we choose to release the Adult first and unfortunately we were not able to completely remove the net from her tail but I am quite sure she will be able to survive. She will however have have to trail a small bit of net behind her. As much as I wanted to it would have been almost totally impossible and extremely dangerous to completely remove the small buoys that were attached to her.




Full shot of Calf







A happily released Calf and chip have some quality time together after the ordeal is over.






It will take a week of more to edit the video, again thanks to everyone who took the time out of their lives to save a whale or two Mother Nature certainly thanks you!!!!

20 Responses to Sperm Whale Marine Turtle Gil Net Rescue A Success!!

  1. Felicidades Vince! John! JD, Andre and all the rest of the team! you guys look tired yesterday but like real heroes you guys rocked it!!! congrats!!! to all!..

  2. Awesome job guys! I’m so glad that it was found and freed. I was pained yesterday going in and thinking that it would continue to drift around and be slowly tortured like the one ten years ago. That poor mother had dragged her dead baby around for over a week and was trapped for another. We weren’t able to free that one the first day and it was never found again. I can’t believe they still have drift nets here. Great rescue and let’s hope that this event can help bring about some change.

  3. That does it. My day winds down in perfect fashion.

    I thought about those trapped animals and their rescuers at least a 100 times.

    Thanks folks!

  4. Under Thanks Again everyone!!! That is my family. The very top picture, listed left to right is: Jeff Hilliker (my dad :)), Richie Hilliker with the visor (cousin), and my Uncle Bill Hilliker. Bill and Jeff are from Arizona and Richie (middle) is from Washington. I am so proud of them 🙂

  5. Vidal Rica! That boat will always live up to that name. Gracias to all involved. Vince you are #1 in my good guys of San Carlos Book.

  6. Ahhhh I got the line up wrong. First picture from left to right is Jeff Hilliker (my dad), middle is Bill Hilliker (uncle) and fare right is Richie Hilliker (cousin). This is in regards to the first picture under Thanks Again everyone!!! So proud of you guys 🙂

  7. This made my day. Thanks so much for stepping up. I too hope that this might be yet another reason for change on drift nets etc. A job well done.

  8. I’m Rich Hilliker’s mother-in-law and I just wanted to say how proud I am of you, Rich, and your dad, uncle, and cousin!! Wow! That is so wonderful and amazing. I can’t wait until you get home so we can hear all about this wonderful story!!

  9. Just to let everyone know on June 18th we saw a Sperm Whale on its side along the surface. It was a 1/2 mile from the inlet to the harbor at San Carlos. We were going out to San Pedro Island for some diving. It was moving but not much. Does anyone know if it is okay. I have video if anyone needs it.
    Any info would be appreciated.
    Thank you

  10. How close did you get to the animal? I am in Cabo San Lucas at the moment but did you see anything trailing off the whale like a net or lines?

  11. We were within a few feet of it. I did not see anything around the tail. I can send you the video tonight. Let me know if you get any more information.

  12. Just checked out the footage and that whale looks to be dead in the video, did you observe the whale breathing at all? I would suspect if it was not dead when you shot the footage, it died very soon afterwords. I will forward the footage to a friend of mine who is whale scientist. Kind of disturbing to see one dying just a few days after we saved a few. thanks for sharing that!

  13. We did not see it take a breath but there was some tail movement. It did seem to have some life in it but like I said, not much. There were no apparent wounds or any kind of blood or oil slick in the water. We were not sure what it was doing. There did not appear to be anything wrapped around the whale at any point on his body. That is why I was checking to see if maybe it had beached or if someone saw it swim off. We were hoping for the best. Please keep us informed of anything you find out. Thanks

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